Another Zen? Sure why not. Creative’s shotgun approach to product lines has spawned a new, yet very familiar, Zen. The Zen Mozaic is a blend of Zen V Plus and the Zen WAV. It takes all the features of the Zen V Plus and mashed it up with the external speaker of the Zen WAV or – basically – the Zen WAV with the styling influence of the Zen V. However, you would like to mix that up.
The Mozaic is aimed at the budget MP3 player market with retail prices dipping to $60 for the 2GB model, but is there anything more than price to lure buyers to the Zen? Or is it just more of the Creative status quo?
- Quick Look
- Capacity: 2GB / 4GB / 8GB
- Size: 79.5 mm x 40.0 mm x 12.8 mm
- Weight: 43g
- Colors: Silver, Black, Pink
- Screen: 1.8″ 64K Color OLED, 128 x 160 pixels resolution
- Battery: 32 hours audio (tested to be 29 hours)
- Transfer protocol: MTP
- Features: FM radio, voice recording, built-in speaker, organizer
- Audio Formats: WMA, MP3, WAV, Audible 4
- Video Formats: M-JPEG
- EQ: 8 presets and 5 band custom EQ
- See All Specs at abi>>compare
In The Box / Accessories
The Mozaic comes with a standard USB cable, earbuds, and Creative Centrale media player/organizer software. Creative does sell a few accessories to go with it like various cases, armbands, and pouches. They also have a travel sound speaker dock for your Mosaic to mount nicely around two speakers.
Design / Build Quality
The entire body of the player is made of a hard matte plastic and it continues on to the Mosaic style buttons. The screen is plastic as well, with a very slight recessing which helps keep scratches away.
The build and design is typical to Creative’s previous designs in that it can be described as “toy like”- a very plastic toy. But while typical of Creative, this does not mean that it is not well made. The Mozaic is very sturdy and feels like a solid block of plastic.
The Zen Mozaic sports a 1.8″ 64K Color, 128 x 160 pixels OLED screen. OLED is efficient more efficient and cheaper than a typical LCD screen, but it comes at a quality cost. The screen’s 64k color representation is pretty good, but what really suffers is the refresh rate of the screen. It tends flicker with onscreen animations and video. Even at the “now playing” screen, letters are blurry and tend to flicker as they scroll across the screen. Also the pixel spacing is bigger than an LCD, making some of the onscreen graphics very blocky.
Overall the screen is poor by today’s standards, but this was done on purpose in order to keep the cost of the Mozaic down. If you want a better screen you will have to spend more money.
The nice thing about Creative is that they have a very consistent interface that has changed little since the very first Zen players appeared. While I won’t get into specifics, you can read any of the last 10 or so Zen reviews if you want to dive into the nitty gritty. However, to sum it up, it’s a very easy “pick up and use” interface with the ability to customize the menu and even the short cut button. There is very little to complain about. The “Zen UI” is great and always has been.
The Zen family of players has always had a solid set of features and the Mozaic is no exception.
Voice recording: Works well and records in a low quality mono WAV format.
Removable disk: The Zen is an MTP, but you can set an MSC partition up for data only in partition sizes of between half a GB and 2GBs.
Organizer: Like previous Zen’s you can synch Outlook’s calendar, tasks, and contacts with the Mozaic. These are viewable on the Player but cannot be edited.
Date & Time- Alarm: The Mozaic keeps the time and date and also includes an alarm. It’s a really nice feature for a player with a built-in speaker.
FM Radio: You won’t find FM recording on this player, but you will find 32 presets with the ability to name each. Auto scan doesn’t work well and only picks up half the available stations. Reception, however, is about average.
Photo Viewer: The screen does
not lend well to photo viewing, but you will be able to view JPEGs in list, icons, and photo slideshow format.
Bookmarks / Playlists
Playlisting, bookmarking, and general playback have always been strong points for Zen players; the Mozaic follows this tradition. 10 bookmarks are at your disposal – handy for audiobooks and other long files. On-the-go playlists also work well and give you the ability to name and create as many as you like without connecting to your computer. Playlists can also be created with any standard media player, including Creative Centrale which comes with the Mozaic.
The sound quality for the average user who plans on sporting the included earbuds or a mild upgrade will be just fine. But for those who have more discerning tastes and sport some expensive headphones, the Zen Mozaic will not impress. It didn’t play well in the entire sound spectrum and just lacked overall clarity when paired with Future Sonics Atrio M5’s as well as the Shure SE530’s
One of the more differentiating features on the Zen Mozaic is the built in speaker. This is always nice for podcast and audiobooks, keeping you unfettered. The speaker will work okay in a slam room and sitting at your desk in a fairly quite environment, but like any tiny speaker it won’t go much further than that. It is definitely something many will only want to use for spoken word audio, since music and quickly become fatiguing to your ears.
The Zen Mozaic is not a video player by any means; it just doesn’t have the power to playback any major codecs. With this lack of power it is bound to a bloated Motion JPEG format with file sizes of about 8 MBs per minute. Even at that the video just doesn’t look good – it’s blurry, grainy, and tiny. Also keep in mind that all video will need to be converted with Creative’s software, and this can take quite a bit of time if your computer has a few years on it.
The video playback will be unacceptable to the majority, but for the few that find use in this, it’s a nice bonus.
Take the Zen WAV and the Zen V Plus, smash them together and you get the Zen Mozaic. While there is nothing new or innovating about the Mozaic, there are moderate improvements in build-quality and design. On the downside, the OLED screen will not impress and the sound quality is pretty weak, but this is somewhat expected for a low priced player.
I can’t really hate on the Mozaic, but I cannot give it praise either. It falls right in the middle of mediocrity and more of the same Creative. I don’t think Creative will ever change their stance on blanketing the market with an ever-increasing product line, but I would have loved to have seen the efforts they put into the Mosiac go to improving and building upon their other MP3 players.
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- Sold build quality
- Easy to use interface
- Lots of useful features
- Poor quality screen
- Weak sound quality